Chicago | Building an Ethical Culture in a Startup

Please don't forget to ADD this event to your CALENDAR!
Wednesday, November 13, 2019
05:00 PM - 07:30 PM CST
Grant Thornton
171 N Clark Street #200
Chicago, IL 60601



Please join the Private Directors Association in Chicago for an evening program on November 13th where a panel will discuss Building an Ethical Culture in a Startup: How to avoid the recent problems emerging in some high profile growth companies.





Karin O’Connor
Executive Director, Heizer Center for Private Equity & Venture Capital
Venture Partner, Serra Ventures

Karin O’Connor has been an active investor in early- and growthstage companies for over twenty years. She currently serves as Clinical Assistant Professor at Kellogg, where she teaches the school’s “New Venture Launch” and “Growth Strategy Practicum” courses. She is also a Venture Partner at Serra Ventures, an earlystage venture capital firm, and leads the firm’s activities in the Chicago market, including recent investments in Markit Medical, Hazel Technologies, BuiltIn, Tank Utility, and backstitch. She is also active as an advisor to growth-stage companies including Aaron Equipment Company, Morey Corporation, and LumiSource LLC.

From 2011 until 2014, Karin served as Managing Director of Hyde Park Angels, Chicago’s largest angel investor network. She invested in fifteen companies with the group and served as HPA’s representative on the boards of portfolio companies FeeFighters, which was acquired by Groupon, Inc. in 2012 and Moxie Jean, which was acquired by Schoola in 2015.


Scott Epskamp
Co-Founder & Former CEO
Leapfrog Online

Scott Epskamp is the former CEO of Leapfrog Online, which he co-founded in 1995 and guided from a start-up to its current status as one of the largest digital performance marketing firms in the country. Since its start, Leapfrog Online has integrated cutting-edge technology with dynamic consumer data to build and manage transformative sales and marketing programs for Fortune 500 brands. Based in Evanston, Illinois, Leapfrog Online employs 150 professionals/FTEs.

A recognized pioneer and leader in the fields of mobile marketing and e-commerce, the company has experienced exceptional growth over the past 5 years and has received industry accolades including Inc. 5000, Deloitte Technology Fast 500, Crain’s Fast 50 and the Illinois Technology Association’s Trailblazer Award.

In April 2017, Leapfrog Online was acquired by Denstu Aegis Network, a publicly traded company. As CEO, Scott led the Go- Market-Strategy and then was responsible for the integration efforts between the two companies. Prior to the acquisition, he recruited, organized and managed a 5- member board of managers for Leapfrog Online. In addition, Scott led the organization’s $30 million private equity capital raise to fuel the company’s acquired growth vision.


Jeremie Bacon
Imagineer Technology Group

Jeremie Bacon was co-founder of Synap Software Labs, which merged with Imagineer Technology Group in 2018 where he serves as CEO. An entrepreneur and CEO in the B2B financial technology sector, Mr. Bacon has a 20-year track record of success in organization building, sales and marketing execution, and operations and financial management.

Before Synap, Mr. Bacon served as the President of Orc Group, and before that, he spent ten years as the President and CEO of Backstop Solutions, which he co-founded in 2003. Mr. Bacon currently serves as the Chairman of the Illinois Technology Association. He is also the Chairman of the Highwater Foundation, which he founded in 2010 to help young entrepreneurs and technologists. Additionally, he serves on the board or as an advisor to several companies and non-profits including, i.c. stars, Symphony Consulting, Tradespoon, Pixavo, SmartBet, and Little Mountain Community ­ eater. He also serves on the executive council for Granite Creek Capital Partners.



Dennis Chookaszian
Former CEO, Chairman, CNA
Director of 20 Private Corporations

Dennis Chookaszian is the former chairman and CEO of CAN Insurance Companies, which was a $17 Billion multi-line insurer with 20,000 employees. In his 26 years at CNA, Mr. Chookaszian served in numerous other executive capacities, including chief financial officer, president and chief operating officer. Dennis was also chairman and CEO of mPower Inc, an internet financial advisory service. Prior to CNA, he was a management consultant with Deloitte. Mr. Chookaszian was chairman of FASAC (Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council) which provides guidance to the FASB on accounting matters, from 2007 to 2012. He has served as a director on the boards of thirteen publicly traded corporations and fifty private corporations. He is currently a director of three public companies, and twenty private corporations. He also serves as an arbitrator and expert witness. Mr. Chookaszian is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and teaches courses in Corporate Governance. He also teaches International Corporate Governance at Cheung Kong University in China, Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance in China, and at IIPM in India.